Several of the most contentious changes to environmental laws passed during the 2014 spring session of the BC Legislature seem to have been developed, and pushed through, in a mad rush and without adequate public consultation. The goal of these laws seems, at least in part, to be to remove perceived environmental constraints on certain types of development – notably natural gas exploration, development and export. Such laws erode environmental legal safeguards, and in turn reduce public confidence in BC’s environmental safety net. This will ultimately hurt the government’s desire to push through quick LNG development.
Poll after poll say that British Columbians favour strong environmental laws – laws that don’t trade our environment off against short-term economic gains. As a result, when governments try to weaken environmental laws in the name of growth, it often backfires, with development proposals losing the social licence that they need, and becoming caught up in public controversy.